Israel preparing coronavirus isolation booths for election day

Voting stations will be set up across the country for citizens in self-imposed isolation due to the illness.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The Central Elections Committee has set up some dozen voting stations around the country for citizens who have quarantined themselves after coming into contact with possible carriers of the coronavirus.

There are several thousand people who fit into this category, as they have recently visited countries where outbreaks of the illness have been reported, or could have come in contact with foreign tourists who came to Israel and then tested positive or became infected after returning home.

The Ministry of Health announced that if those who have isolated themselves do not have symptoms such as a fever over 38 degrees, a cough, or trouble breathing, they can go to the special polling tents. They should come alone in private vehicles without stopping anywhere else on the way, and not park in public parking garages.

While awaiting their turn, says the ministry, no person should stand closer than two meters (six feet) from their fellow voters, or touch anything.

They will enter special, heavy plastic tents, wearing masks and latex gloves, one at a time. They will have to sign a declaration that they are voting in a booth set up for quarantined individuals, after which the pen will be thrown away.

Their voting slips will be sealed in double envelopes, just like the votes of soldiers on their bases and hospitalized patients. Regular volunteer observers could not be found to oversee and count these votes, so emergency medical technicians from Magen David Adom have stepped up to do the job.

“No one was willing to work there,” Orly Ades, director general of Israel’s Central Elections Committee, told a parliamentary committee last week, according to The Jerusalem Post.

The volunteers will wear smocks, gloves and masks, and make sure that the correct distance is kept between the voters. They will sit in one tent, with a clear plastic window that will give them a view into the actual attached “booth.” These special polls will only be open between 10:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m.

The Washington Post speculated that many countries could take an interest into how Israel deals with “an infection election,” including the United States, where presidential and congressional elections will be held in November.

The coronavirus may affect the elections in a different way as well. With Blue and White and Likud polling at a dead heat, the two leading parties are fighting for every vote. Yet a Midgam poll last week showed that 6.5 percent of the respondents said they were thinking of not going to vote due to their fear of getting infected.

Ironically, the age groups that reported the highest concerns regarding exposure are those least likely to get ill from the virus. In the 18-24 and 25-34 age groups, 13 and 15 percent respectively said it was a concern for them.